Inequality for All

By Don McCanne, qotd editor
Quote of the Day Editorial, October 11, 2013

Yesterday, my wife Sandy and I had the pleasure of joining a group from our local chapter of the League of Women Voters in viewing the new documentary, Inequality for All, featuring former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. The lesson of the film did not escape those attending. The last couple of decades have left low- and middle-income people behind while all of the workers’ gains in productivity have moved up to the very wealthiest.

This is an important issue for those who support single payer reform – improved Medicare for all. The average health care costs for the typical working family of four are now over $22,000 while the median household income is $50,000. If everyone is going to have the health care that they need, some of that wealth flowing upwards needs to be redirected to health care, and to other social needs as well.

Some of the wealthy one-percenters do understand this. Featured in the documentary was entrepreneur and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer. The following link is to a six minute TED video in which Nick explains the phenomenon and why it is important to us. (For political reasons, TED removed this video from its website, but it is still available through YouTube.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBx2Y5HhplI

In our dinner discussion after viewing Inequality for All, some commented that, though the film explained the problem well, it seemed to leave off any plan for action. It does not require much intuitiveness to think of what actions we might take, though the website for the film does help us by discussing six categories for action:

* Raise the minimum wage
* Strengthen workers’ voices
* Invest in education
* Reform Wall Street
* Fix the tax system
* Get big money out of politics

Inequality for All: http://inequalityforall.com

For those who would like to learn more, Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez, who was also featured in the documentary, has published extensively on this topic. Many of his papers  – several co-authored by Thomas Piketty – can be downloaded from his website:

http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~saez/